To lose the world,
To gain one’s soul,
With sail unfurled,
And trust the wind
To bring you to the end.
But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.
In spirit and truth.
In response to a question about places of worship, Jesus tells a Samaritan woman of a coming shift in perspective. Soon (indeed, sooner than many of the day realized), true worship would no longer be identified with a specific location, neither at Jerusalem (where the Jews worshiped) nor Mount Gerizim (where the Samaritans worshiped). True worshipers would worship in spirit and truth.
But what does it mean to worship in spirit and truth?
For years, I’ve fought against the urge to place too much weight upon the next thing. The next thing may not be clearly defined, of course–it rarely is. But nonetheless, I catch myself looking ahead, dreaming of what might be. All the while, I steadily lose sight of my present responsibilities.
Remember now the darkness of those three long days before
The dawning of the day of resurrection,
For few have felt the fear of thinking God had lost the war.
The shadow of his people’s insurrection
Now loomed across the future. Now our hope seemed spent and slain.
The light of life appeared to be extinguished.
The ones who sang his praises now in shock sang no refrain.
His life, howe’er, was willingly relinquished.
What seemed to be a sure defeat was fixed before the fall.
The devil’s darkest scheme was his undoing.
As Christ was lifted up, he drew all men to heed his call.
He drained the cup of wrath our sin was brewing.
The bitter silence of that Sabbath day must have been great.
Unheard, Satan’s presumpt’ous celebration.
When was it Satan realized the cross had sealed his fate?
The slaughtered lamb became our faith’s foundation.
We now look back in wonder at this work in history
And sing with joy to God who reigns eternal.
The cornerstone came forth again in holy victory
O’er ev’ry sin, the mean and the infernal.
The resurrection of the Son secured our joy and peace.
No enemy can sabotage or sever
Us from the Father’s love. In him, sin’s slavery must cease.
Sing praise, his people, now and to forever.
Elusive fulfillment, promising much,
Master of anticipation and lust,
Warping a want till it feels like a must,
How many more must be crushed in your clutch?
Questioning you grows progressively more
Treacherous, for you twist my desiring
From pure motives in holy retiring
To meaner modes. I cease to see the war.
Awaken me, O Spirit. Help me hear
The still, small voice reminding me the way
To fullness is to seek a higher end.
My God, you reign. Teach me to love and fear,
To trust in your provision for this day,
And to abide in thee, most faithful friend.
Some seasons of life bring immense spiritual growth. Your heart burns within you as you learn new things about the Lord, about yourself, and about your place in his kingdom, and you likely will remember the lessons for years afterward. But other seasons of life bring feelings of stagnation and coldness. You desire growth, but you can’t seem to detect any progress in your journey with the Lord. I think I’m currently in the latter season. Continue reading
A friend of mine recently asked me how we ought to address the issue of spiritual immaturity among young believers. He noticed that many our age have shallow understandings of theology and possess little maturity in the things of God, and he wondered how we can help people to grow when adolescence appears to have such a firm hold on our generation. His question grows more pressing when I consider my own heart and find the same tendencies and deficiencies in myself. So how do we grow in godliness? How do we ourselves grow more mature in the faith and more biblically and theologically grounded? And how do we lead others to follow our example? Below are a few thoughts that I pray will help us along that road.
Love displayed in life laid down for others.
Joy surpassing all this earth can offer.
Peace before both enemies and brothers.
Patience with the doubter and the scoffer.
Kindness to all creatures in creation.
Goodness shining brightly through corruption.
Faithfulness becomes our firm foundation.
Gentleness endures despite disruption.
Self-control o’er all the flesh’s passion.
Self-deni’l, a daily crucifixion.
Faith e’er growing more in holy fashion.
Truth proclaimed with notes of heaven’s diction.
Spirit, lead our walking, guide our living.
Let the world see you in our thanksgiving.
The flesh is weak, and thus the flesh is strong.
Its eyes, created to behold the light,
Look to be filled by shadows in the night.
Its lips attempt to sing a lesser song,
Changing its subject to subjects. Its hands
Fight to feel control. Its nose calls rotten
All fragrance of the only begotten.
Its mind feigns thought yet never understands.
Strange is its weakness, stranger still its strength,
For, though inferior to its design,
The flesh oft captivates the soul of man,
Distracting all the senses for the length
Of life, lest spirit somehow glimpse a sign
That life was purposed for a higher plan.
Ne’er underestimate the danger here.
Long as you live, the enemy is near.